Category Archives: Student work

student work

Journals – the logistics guide

Every year the CCOM teachers purchase THOUSANDS of journals for the students in preparation for their week. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things that work well… and we’re happy to share!

1. Size: “basically, you want a journal as big as your students can handle” – Grade 4 teacher

There’s nothing more adorable than a tiny tot holding on to something waaay to big for them. But it can be frustrating for them (and for you, “can you carry this?”) if the journal your students have is too big, or too thick for them to carry comfortably. Likewise, if it’s too big, some students have trouble taking care of their journal respectfully. Choose a size that feels right for you – if it means waiting a month to get to know your students before you order them – that’s a-okay!

2. Material “durability is key” – Grade 2/3 teacher

There are a lot of different journal choices out there right now, but the most common one we see is the letter (8.5×11) size, coil bound, and blank insides. These have plenty of pages, and they’re a bit sturdier than floppy journals because they come with composite covers. This is super important, because the ideal journal is comfortable to use in a variety of settings, not just at a desk. Here’s the thing though… those covers rip right off. Here’s two techniques we like for keeping them on. Have students design their own front and back cover using one side of one piece of A3 sized paper then use clear plastic tape to cover the whole page, and affix it to the composite covers, completely covering the binding. OR make a strip of laminate the same length of the journal and big enough to cover the binding and at least 1.5 inches on either side. Tape this laminate to the covers using duct tape or something else strong. BONUS: if you have the coil journals, this will also help students resist the urge to pull the coil out.

3. Lined or unlined? “work with what your students will use” – Grade 5 teacher

Lined journals encourage writing, unlined encourage other forms of communication. Generally, we recommend providing unlined journals for younger folks, but keeping some lined paper handy to glue in if they need it. Whatever you choose, practice a lot (if it’s unlined, practice writing in it with students, if it’s lined, practice drawing)! This will help students get over their discomfort with the page.

4. Fold or coil? “I prefer coil myself, so I use that with my students” – Grade 1 teacher

Ideally you want a journal that can lay flat, so that either side can be written on, and students can use the stability of the pages as a writing surface if they’re not working at a desk. Lots of types of binding allow this, but coil seems to be quite popular. BUT – there’s always those young folks who tear that coil out. Here’s two tips for curbing that. Glue a paper “fidget” onto the cover (a textured piece of paper, maybe a pop out card, maybe a line of triangles or two that can be popped up or folded, a pipe cleaner… anything that works for that students!) and when you see that student playing with the coil, remind them to use the fidget instead. OR super glue a bead to each end of the coil, sometimes the texture of the bead is enough of a fidget itself, and it’s much harder to pull through the cardboard.

5. Make it special through ritual “we made our own covers that they felt proud of, and every time we use our journal I have a chime that I sound, and we do a breathing activity before we open them up” – Grade 3 teacher

It takes practice to generate a respectful loving relationship to things. This is part of the museum school in so many ways, so why not start with your journal. Use whatever tools you like, but if you help your students see their own journals as important records of their year, they’ll get more out of them. Records are not mistake proof either, it’s important to record our learning by showing how we improve. This is why we have things like graduations and piano recitals regularly, not just when you’ve gotten to the highest level. It’s important to record and celebrate the journey.

We’d love to hear your ideas about journals, so please feel free to send them along! Have a journal story or bit of knowledge you’re open to sharing? We’d love some guest bloggers!!

 

Strategies for bringing your ELL student to Museum School

One thing some of you asked for this year, was help supporting your ELL students document their learning, and be successful at Glenbow. We’ve been working with a few concepts for a while, testing some new ones out, and asking our colleagues, and here’s what we’ve learned…

Keep us in the loop

If you are working with ELL students, give us a heads up. We can work together to come up with some goals for that student, and some tools we can use throughout the week. We have incredible access to visuals that we can use with a bit of extra planning.

Practice thinking routines

Everyone should have a thinking routine or two that they’re comfortable with before they come. You may make some accommodations to the primary ones you use for your ELL students. Having a rubric or visual guide for your thinking routine definitely helps uptake for ELL learners (make your own, or download one).

 Bring your regular routines here

If you have regular routines around things like starting your day, changing focus, lunch and snacks, or going outside, use them here too. You may not be able to bring all your routines, but if you use a special chime, or chart, or tool – feel free to bring them here.  If you have a particular way of getting students attention, let us know and we’ll use yours. We have ways we do things at Museum School, but we’re always willing to adapt and use ways that best suit your class.

 “Teach Hub” recommends learning to Stop & Think… (the following is from their website)

Teach the “Stop and Think” strategy to help students evaluate their own learning. If you observe a student having difficulty in class, ask them to stop their work and think about the following questions: What am I struggling with? What can I do differently? What questions do I have? Who can help me answer those questions?

I think the crux here is, making an environment in your classroom where students know they can and should ask for help if they’re struggling. This is a tough one for sure (isn’t it “neat” how kids deflect when they’re struggling?), so if anyone has strategies for making this work in their classroom, I’d love to learn more.

 Do some practice sketching

Have students work with object sketching before you come. Your object doesn’t have to be something exotic (although exotic is easier to find that we think sometimes -  my young folks have asked more than once how those “big CD thingies” work, and I dust off the record player for their amazement). It’s just helpful if everyone knows that when you ask them to sketch, you’re asking them to notice detail, take time, and capture the object.

 Prepare everyone to use labels

Adding simple labels might also be a good beginning step for ELL learners, and it’s worthwhile for everyone to start something like a “word bank” in your classroom. Before a word goes up on the wall, make sure everyone knows what it means (“rough” is accompanied by feeling several rough objects etc.) If the gap between the ELL student and the other students is really big, have everyone make presentations for each word. Ask them to imagine teaching their word to someone who doesn’t know what it means. This activity can also be a reminder that part of your year long inquiry is “slow learning” – really taking the time to explore ideas and concepts.

Do you have some strategies for supporting ELL students that have worked well for you? We’d love to hear about your work in this area too!

8 Websites to Start Your Year…

Hello!

I thought I would share some links that could help you get your year situated for big picture learning. These are resources that Marnie and I use often, and that we hope are useful – but as always, we’re open to feedback.

The connection between all these sites it that we hope you’ll check them out at the beginning of the year, and if they’re useful, maybe you’ll integrate them into your practice and preparation for the museum.

 Thinking Routines

The purpose of these is just to make it easy for your students to enter into a dialogue with an idea, piece of writing, object, or concept. There’s two enormous sites that have all kinds of thinking routines we like, the Artful Thinking Project from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and an extension of that, the Project Zero webpage.

Museum Culture

Museum News from the Global Museum has all the most interesting world museum news listed regularly.

This website keeps tabs on museums across the globe. It’s new, so there’s still some bugs, but it’s a rabbit hole waiting to happen for sure.

Canada

World renowned for its impact on Indigenous people, and it’s origin story (the network started because peoples of the north took a stand and asked for  programming that reflected their culture and communities), Aboriginal Peoples Television Network has a great website. Contrasting their news section with other stations is always especially interesting. Like everything else in the world.. this channel is not universally liked.

The Virtual Museum of Canada is a great way to understand an exhibit without ever having to leave the classroom. If your students arrive with the understanding that an exhibit is like an overarching idea or story, and the pieces all fit together in some way, and by looking at them together you can learn so much more about each individual artifact… well you won’t even need us.

Glenbow

There are a few Glenbow sites that you might find useful over in the section for teachers. We also really encourage you to have a look at our main website to see our exhibit schedule and stay up to date on the interesting things happening here. If you regularly communicate with parents, you might remind them about our Free First Thursday program if their young folks are itching for another visit after their week.

You may also want to explore our collections. We’ve got a lot of interesting belongings and art here that can certainly supplement your work all year long.

Working to know truth

Some of you folks requested support connecting with resources to teach some of the harder parts of Canadian history in grade appropriate ways. There is just a ton of stuff online at the moment, so please consider this a jumping off point, but I’ve gone hunting of some really stellar resources to get you started..

1. First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s Spirit Bear

This national organization based on the Squamish First Nation worked towards the betterment of families through research and best practice sharing. They recently developed the Spirit Bear Campaign (a book and a bear with teaching materials), and also have some classroom curriculum guides on their website (I feel they’re a bit dense, and sometimes seem off grade level, but there is so much in each one, and many ideas can be adapted).

2. This Beautiful Map of Indigenous territories worldwide 

This map is still in development, but it’s a great tool to just pull up whenever you’re talking about a place. It helps add history to conversations about place, and reminds us of the layers on the land that stretch back in time.

3. The provincially developed lessons plans 

These have been through several iterations, and much consultation. Some Glenbow folks have helped with this process too. We’d love to know if any of you are using these, or what you think of them.

4. This Book List from CBC

There are a lot of Reading to Reconciliation lists, but many of them don’t have age listings with each book. This list does, bu it’s otherwise a bit sparse. Please add a comment if you know if a better one.

5. Canadian Museum of Human Rights Toolkit

This page has a whole directory of lesson plans that can be searched by grade, subject, province, and language. It’s an excellent resource for all kinds of difficult topics, not just Indigenous subjects.

P.S. – If you’re looking for sources of adult education… Marine recently took a MOOC and I am a near constant reader – we’d be be happy to make recommendations or exchange resources etc.

New Forum – Review your Journal

ahhh… the eternal quest… for the perfect journal.

Is it easier to write in your journal if you actually like it? Does it matter if your journal falls apart before it’s full? Soft cover or hard, which do you prefer?

These are the questions we sometimes grapple with, and we know you’re pondering this too. Personally, I’m not very good with these types of details, I’m a bit of a utilitarian in some ways, so I’m more interested in the supply chain than most of the other details.

But generally, we know that there are some benefits and drawbacks (and some fatal flaws) to different journal designs. We recommend that you use something coil bound, with a hard cover so it can be easily carted around and written in while standing or maybe sitting on a carpeted floor.

Lately though, we’ve seen the same white coil bound books. If you look at your Journey into Journalling (I forget why the extra L – it’s on purpose though) book, on page 8 you’ll see the main problem with these… the coil pops out. Magically. ;)

I find them a bit big myself. But I’m not the end user here – your students are. If you think they are “magically” inclined i.e. they are likely to methodically work a coil out of place until they have a dangerous eye poking spring  and a wild collection of loose papers, you might want to consider a different journal.

But which one?

I’m hoping that we can compare notes. If you happen to be a journal writer, or if you’ve found the perfect book (or the imperfect one) in your work with students, please head on over to the forums and post a review. We’d love to know what your journey into Journalling has taught you about… well… the journal.

Making an impact

Did you know that there have been studies of the long term impact of Open Minds sites? (Maybe I already mentioned it)

Gillian Kydd, who pioneered the program made a video recording of students who participated in Zoo school 7 years earlier. Through that experience we learned some interesting (if slightly anecdotal) things, including:

- Students remember tactile and sensory things (like smells and playing with snow)

-Students don’t often recall programs, or activities that they did. They remember the things they saw more than the tasks they completed

- Upon reflection, the students realized that the experience taught them that there were more ways to learn than the “classroom method” and that these other ways were valid and important

- Each participant shared their intended career path, and attributed that path to something they learned at Zoo School (so the learning is deep, and the lessons are sustained although perhaps not immediately recognizable)

And…

- Students totally forget facilitators, but they have strong memories of their teacher and parents (if they participated) from that time.

This idea is well established in research – emotion and learning are closely connected and student teacher bonds are an important part of student success.

 

But don’t worry – we don’t get down on ourselves because we’re ultimately forgotten! Because for the brief period that your students are here, we know we’ve captured their attention.

Thank you Marnie! from Nakoda AV Club on Vimeo.

 

 

When you visit… But Museums Are Boring!?

One of the best parts of being in Museum School is that moment at the end of the week when we do our “closing ceremony” and we talk about all the things that students experienced, saw, felt, and learned to enjoy here. There’s always so many insightful comments from young people and adults, and it’s a wonderful moment for me.

Usually the discussion is pretty diverse; even though it’s the same programs, artifacts, and building, every week these young minds interpret things in their own way and fascinating perspectives always emerge.

However, there is one topic that does often come up. It sounds like this:

“When I first came here I thought it was going to be boring”

Parents always howl when they hear this… I think it’s one of those moments where one person says what a lot of others were thinking.

Now, I know, that by the end of museum school, even if you’re an adult volunteer (and maybe only spent the day), you are going to see museums in a new light. You’re going to know what I know: that this is a sacred space, and it is challenging, rewarding, and sublimely beautiful.

But I can admit, it doesn’t always feel that way.

Museum School is a special place. We work hard to make sure that students grow to see the museum, and in turn themselves, in new ways. We want you to keep having special experiences here, but we know that it’s not always easy.

Museums require a skill set, just like most public spaces. Sure anyone can blunder through a shopping mall, but there’s a difference between the person who spends 20 minutes there, and the person who spends 6 hours. I’m not necessarily suggesting that you spend 6 hours in every museum, but at the very least, I’d like to help you get what you want, find the deals, and always know where the closest washroom is before you go (I’m still using the mall metaphor here, I’m sure you can find the washroom).

You’ve built part of your skill set to enjoy and get the most out of your museum experience while at Museum School. But next time you come it’ll be without the support and scaffolding of the program. So I’ve put together a few notes to help you remember what you already know, and make the most of your next museum adventure:

Your visit probably starts before you come; your visit to the museum will be a bit more interesting if you look at what’s on display, and learn a bit about what you want to see. Knowing things like to social context of the period, or even the textbook definitions of some of the techniques or influences will make your experience much more rewarding.

Don’t try to see everything; just don’t set yourself up for that kind of failure! Most museums take several visits to see the whole collection, and even small museums may take awhile to really appreciate and know. This connects to the previous point. When you walk in, know what you’re most interested to see, and don’t worry about visiting too much in one day.

Remember, it’s quality over quantity; museums generally keep 10% of their collection on view at any one time. They don’t even let you see all of it -never mind expect that you’re going to try to on one visit! Aim to have an engaging experience with a few galleries or pieces. (This is a pro tip if you’re visiting a museum on vacation. You still get to tick it off your bucket list, but you don’t need to pressure yourself into spending the whole day at the Met and missing the DIA Dirt Room or the Cyclone at Coney).

Don’t be intimidated. Art is for everyone. There is no wrong way appreciate a work of art (our security guards might want me to mention, at a distance of about 30 cm… but other than that… no wrong way!) Whatever you see in a piece is what is there. And that’s enough sometimes. Of course, the more you know about the history, connections, artist, genre etc. etc. etc. the more rich the work becomes.. but there is more than enough meaning in most pieces to just appreciate for its own sake. When my mom and I go to a gallery together, we look for the works that have animals in them. You might appreciate colors, or trees… no wrong way.

And lastly… (yes I’ve saved the best…) Challenge yourself. Look deeply at something that doesn’t appeal to you. Pull out that phone and research something or someone you know nothing about. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Look inside yourself and ask “how do I really feel?” (eep!)

Challenges make our experiences more memorable. As we do our closing ceremony in Museum School usually we will teach the students how to use the singing bowl. They’ve gotten used to hearing us use it when we’d like their attention, and then it’s their turn to command the bowl (and our attention) when we close. But there’s a specific way to use it, and the combination of trying something new and being in front of a group of peers makes the task seem much more challenging that it really is. But in doing that, we help the students remember the experience, and everything they’ve said in our closing circle.

Some remember it so well, that they come racing home and ask you to take them to a museum.

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Three Weeks/One School

We have been working with some new formats the last couple of years.  Originally, Museum School was unofficially limited to no more that two classes from one school within one school year.  This had practical reasoning behind it – reach as many schools, teachers and students as possible within the available 28 week year.  Open Minds serves two purposes, student learning and teacher professional development and in the early days, the shotgun approach spread this through the community.   Well, 20 years later, schools have changed, the methodology in the classroom now mirrors (for the most part) what we are trying to accomplish in the museum – student driven, inquiry based learning, and most schools have a teacher in their population who has participated in Open Minds.  So, is it time for us to change? – probably! 

We have had more schools apply with three or more classes all part of the same learning team – partly due to demographics, our city is growing,  and partly due to school organization.  I find working with a team of teachers fantastic!  It gives teachers with more experience with Open Minds the opportunity to mentor new teachers and entire grades in schools the opportunity to share their Museum experience.  More opportunities means more connections within their entire year. 

Our final three weeks were with three grade six classes.  The teachers planned their weeks together and shared their resources.  For us, it was eye opening to see three different approaches used within one framework.  Each week, even though the programs were identical, was completely unique but maintained a common thread to carry back to the school.  I think this approach, shared experiences molded to the individual student community and teaching style, worked brilliantly.

 The weeks all started with an object based looking activity that challenged the students to look deeply.  A “Welcome to Your Week” type of program!

The following day, building on looking deeply, the students participated in a writing workshop with writer and curator, Dennis Slater.  Now, they were asked to not only look deeply but to write a piece of fiction based on the object they chose.

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Building on this theme of story within object/art, the next day was an immersion into our gallery of arctic themed art to do some poetry writing and art making.

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 A trip behind the scenes into our collections to look at and hear the stories of a few artifacts continues to reinforce the importance of object as story holder on the second to last day of the week.  Students worked individually in the afternoon, seeking out artifacts that interested them and finding their stories.

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The last day, using all of the skills from the week ahead, the students used clues from objects to create an imaginary culture and debate the impact to their culture when they are contacted by a different culture.  The conversation that this initiated was an excellent kicking off point for their year’s big Idea, “What makes a global citizen?”  I think the stories these students found in objects and the importance of preserving the artifacts will affect their view on global citizenship.  Cool weeks!

The final word goes to a grade six student,

“Museum school was awesome. We got to put on a Knight’s helmet and gauntlet. We got to spend a whole morning in the Warriors’ gallery, where we had to find any weapon in the gallery that wasn’t a fire-arm and write a story about it.  On Thursday, we went into storage, we had to take a special staff elevator up to the 7th floor. Once we got there, Marnie took our group to Patty the dog. Patty was a World War I dog who went with soldiers in Canada all the way to France and helped out the soldiers.  Patty was most likely killed by gases, was stuffed, and sent back to Canada where he wound up at the Glenbow.  Then we went to hold a one handed 30 pound cavalry mace. In the afternoon we went to Mavericks, where we had to write a story on one of the vehicles.  I chose the Curtiss Jenny 4 airplane and wrote an awesome story.  In museum school, I learned about Canada’s history, about the pioneers, about European history with weapons, ancient Japan’s history and the First Nations.  I learned all about the hardships of life in the olden days, and what it took to be a knight. I would go back because there’s so much stuff that I didn’t get a chance to see, and I want to see it all.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student journal - reflecting

Before, During and After Museum School

 At the end of October, CC/OM held a workshop for teachers that are visiting sites this year at Briar Hill School.  Mike West, who was at Museum School in September shared his process for skill building and creating a culture of learning within his class.  Two other teachers from Briar Hill were at Museum School as well, Celeste Ruff and Leslie LeVesconte.  This was a fantastic experience for us because we got to see the impact of the week at Glenbow on three classes. 

Pre-Work was a vital part of each class.  The learning and thinking was made visible up and down the halls and in the classrooms.  Click on the images to make them larger.Pre Work Pre Work What is a museum? Pre work Beginning to think about...

Skills were practiced.

Pre Work - looking at art

At the Museum, the learning was again made visible.  FullSizeRender Artifact whispers

To document their learning, students returned to their journals and drew from their experience to create multi-dimensional representations of their learning.  Expectations were clearly stated.

Rubric for Journal

 

Journal rubric

 The work that was, and still is, being produced clearly demonstrates student centered learning that shows they were engaged and challenged to think deeply.

Journal sample JOW poem1

Open Minds See, Think, Wonder - Go Deeper

Open Minds See, Think, Wonder – Go Deeper

Student journal - reflecting

 Thank you to Briar Hill grade 3/4′s for three fantastic weeks!